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HP readying AMD quad-core 'Barcelona' servers

Documentation that Hewlett-Packard has posted on its Web site points to Proliant servers with AMD's Barcelona processor.

Hewlett-Packard has committed to Advanced Micro Devices' quad-core Opteron "Barcelona" processors in its Proliant DL585 servers, according to company documents.

This comes as AMD is preparing to send samples of its "B3" quad-core Opteron processor to customers. The B3 stepping (or version) fixes, in silicon, a rarely occurring glitch in the Barcelona chip, referred to as the TLB bug. The bug has delayed shipment of quad-core chips to top-tier U.S. server vendors, giving Intel a leg-up in the high-end server market.

Currently, Proliant DL585 G2 servers use dual-core Opteron processors. But HP documentation updated last month makes copious reference to the quad-core Opteron used in HP's High-Performance Technical Computing (HPTC) DL585 models. For instance, documentation states: "The second generation (G2) HP ProLiant DL585 server offers the performance and efficiency of quad-core AMD Opteron processors, enhanced by improvements to all major subsystems in the server." This is found in a paper entitled "HP ProLiant DL585 G2 server technology."

Specifications for the DL582 G2 architecture include AMD Opteron 8200 series dual-core or 8300-series quad-core processors, Nvidia nForce Professional 2200 and 2050 chipsets, and the AMD 8132 chipset. Also: two 100MHz PCI-X slots, four PCI Express x4 slots, three PCI Express x8 slots, and two embedded multifunction gigabit network adapters.

The DL585 servers are targeted at the HPTC market in areas including electronic design automation (EDA)/semiconductor, financial applications, petrochemical applications, enterprise resource planning (ERP)/customer relationship management (CRM) applications, large database applications, and video rendering applications, among other uses, according to HP.

HP has also posted a notice on its Web site that states ProLiant Servers Configured with a Quad-Core AMD Opteron Processor "require a Service Pack Upgrade for Suse Linux Enterprise Server 9 SP 3 or Suse Linux Enterprise Server 10 to Support AMD PowerNow! Feature."

Top-tier U.S. server vendors are, for the most part, waiting for the B3 stepping of the Barcelona processor, though selected shipments of earlier versions of the Barcelona are going to specialized, high-performance computing (HPC) customers.